TV View: Schick’s wonder strike leaves Scots gutted all over again

Long-suffering fans left wondering if the 23-year wait to qualify had been worth it at all

Hands up: how many of you thought Patrik Schick’s shot was heading for the Shetland Islands? Same here. Just the 49.7 metres from goal, if the fella doesn’t now get asked to do ads for Curly Wurly it’ll be a travesty.

(As will, frankly, the decision of any headline-writer to go with ‘Jocks Schick as a Parrot’ for their match report).

It had promised to be a very lovely afternoon in Hampden Park, too, the natives well up for it, not least when Flower of Scotland filled the air, a tune still so perfect it would make you wish you'd been at the Battle of Bannockburn in your kilt to help out.

And judging by the montage of misery that the BBC opened their coverage with, the Battle of Bannockburn roughly coincided with the last time Scotland qualified for a major tournament.

Over a soundtrack provided by Biffy Clyro, we saw Berti Vogts, Walter Smith, Alex McLeish, George Burley, Craig Levein and Gordon Strachan all left ashen-faced as qualifying campaigns were left in tatters, tear-stained tartan abound, gutted supporters inserting their collective faces in their collective hands, one calamity after another.

And then Biffy Clyro went up an octave, a bit like those times Westlife spring from their stools, just in time for Scotland beating Serbia on penalties in November 2020 to qualify for, eh, Euro 2020.

Even aside from the Celtic Cousins lark we are, of course, morally obliged to support Scotland ever since Gary Mackay did his thing in Sofia back in November 1987 (ask your Grannies), a good chunk of us adopting them in big tournaments pre-1988 when the prospects of our lads ever making it to one seemed remote. And at the rate we're going . . . no, let's be hopeful.

Quite often in the dim and distant past, when Scotland qualified for the biggies, the BBC would have the likes of Jimmy Hill pundit-ing on them in a sort of a “bless their cotton socks, och aye the noo – ha, ha – aren’t they great to be here?” way, but this is 2021, despite what Uefa tell us, so the Beeb gave us an all-Scottish team.

Our host was Eilidh Barbour who had Darren Fletcher, Shelley Kerr and Kenny McLean alongside her, Rob MacLean and James McFadden in the commentary box.

Just a note on the Mac/Mcs: football writer Richard Jolly shared an ominous observation on Monday: "Scotland started with seven Mcs (McKimmie, McPherson, McAllister, McCall, McStay, McClair, McCoist) in their first Euros game in 1992. Down to a mere two (McTominay, McGinn) now. Worrying times."

Neither Darren nor Shelley nor Kenny picked up on this as being a potential issue ahead of the group opener against the Czech Republic, their primary concern the absence of the injured Kieran Tierney rather than Mac/Mcs, but the presence in the side of Andy Robertson, who had he been available for Bannockburn would have insured the battle ended in 90 minutes, filled their hearts with hope.

And then Schick's double left them gutted all over again, a smattering of boos ringing around Hampden, like the 23-year wait hadn't been worth it at all. So blunt was the Scotland attack, they might even have been pining for a recall for Denis Law (81) and Kenny Dalglish (70).

"How would you sum up the last 90 minutes," the BBC reporter asked John McGinn.

“We got beat,” he replied.

As post-match-summings-up go, that was succinct, in a quite perfect way.

Back on RTÉ, Damien Doff duffed his cap to Schick's second goal, "absolutely ridiculous" as he accurately described it, and while the BBC panel was clinging to the belief that Scotland's advancement hopes weren't deceased yet, that they could spring a surprise against England in their second game, on RTÉ Kevin Doyle came close enough to giving them the last rites.

“It’s a real, real uphill one from here,” he said, “it’s nearly an impossible task.”

Damo, though, wasn’t prepared to write them off just yet.

“It’s still on for them, they have their Celtic blood . . . down at Wembley, they’ll just make it outright war . . . if it was up to me, I’d definitely make a motivational video.”

Stephen Kenny, you'd guess, was having a quiet chuckle back home. Not that these motivational videos are controversial, or anything.

Still, if they could get footage from Bannockburn – which, admittedly, could be tricky – and soundtrack it with, say, the Proclaimers, they could send England homeward tae think again. Maybe even leave them Shick as parrots.

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